LOS ANGELES -- The bullpen slump that appeared to be triggered by Kenley Jansen's absence now has the All-Star closer in its clutches.
For his second consecutive appearance since coming off the disabled list, Jansen was beaten by Cardinals hitting homers, this time Paul DeJong slugging a two-run shot in the ninth inning on Wednesday night in a 3-1 loss that dropped the third-place Dodgers to 4 1/2 games out of first in the National League West, their largest deficit since May 29.
"It stinks losing. It stinks being 4 1/2 back. It stinks being in third place," said Jansen. "Just got to be a man and deal with it. Step up Friday. We all need to step up."
Jansen, who became a father again earlier in the day, was coming off a Monday night loss in which he allowed back-to-back homers by Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter after entering a tied game, his first appearance since an irregular heartbeat landed him on the DL and the rest of the bullpen in the ICU.
"Life sometimes is a fairy tale," he said. "Everything was going well. Just got stopped with A-Fib [atrial fibrillation] and here I am. Just got to figure out how to get out of this mess."
Jansen hesitated, then sidestepped a question about any lingering side effects from his condition or the prescribed medication.
"Sometimes, you just got to go through it, no excuse. You would never hear that from me," he said. "Feel good or not feeling good, no excuse, just tough it out. Last two days weren't my days. Be ready Friday. I just need one game, I'm very confident I'll get it back."
This one was tied as well when he came on, 1-1, Scott Alexander blowing a save by allowing an eighth-inning homer by pinch-hitter Tyler O'Neill. In the ninth, Jansen allowed a one-out broken-bat single to Gyorko, then was taken deep on an 0-2 pitch by DeJong, his 14th homer. Seven of the last 12 Dodgers losses have come in the opponents' last at-bat.
"I tried to get it up and away and it was up and middle. He got me," said Jansen. "I'm not getting the cutter where I want to get it. That's the pitch I need to figure out. When it doesn't do what it's supposed to do, that's the results."
While losing for the 10th time in the last 14 games, the Dodgers also suffered their first three-game sweep by the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium since 2006. And while the bullpen allowed all three St. Louis runs, the loss was equally shared by another futile Dodgers offensive performance -- one run on two hits.
"We put ourselves in a tough spot, that's for sure," said manager Dave Roberts. "We've put ourselves in a position where the margin is getting smaller. It's not about blaming anybody. It's about coming together as a team and winning baseball games."
Most of the game was a pitchers' duel between budding aces. The Dodgers' Walker Buehler left after seven scoreless innings in position to win by firing a career-high nine strikeouts and allowing three hits. He has a 1.11 ERA over his last five starts.
"Walker did everything he could do to help us win a baseball game, he emptied the tank," said Roberts.
Jack Flaherty started for the Cardinals and had a no-hitter through five innings, the flirtation ruined by Joc Pederson's 18th home run with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, a towering blast that barely cleared the fence in right-center. To that point, Flaherty had allowed a pair of walks and struck out 10, the third consecutive game the Dodgers fanned in double digits.
Even before Pederson's pop, Buehler nearly matched Flaherty. The one clean hit he allowed was a line single to right field by Yairo Munoz in the third inning. Gyorko's fourth-inning plate appearance was ruled a hit, although it was a one-hopper right at shifted second baseman James Dozier, who booted the ball without a throw. Gyorko also doubled off the glove of third baseman Justin Turner leading off the seventh, but Buehler pitched out of the threat.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the game tied in the bottom of the eighth, Yasiel Puig singled with one out and pinch-hitter Matt Kemp's grounder was bobbled by third baseman Gyorko, whose high throw pulled Carpenter off the bag. Carpenter saved a run with a diving stop to erase Pederson, Turner walked to load the bases, but after falling behind in the count, 2-0, Dakota Hudson got Manny Machado on a groundout to end the inning.
The Dodgers are 32-33 at home. They haven't finished with a losing season at home since 2005.
"The record at home is a fact, but I don't understand why," said Roberts.
HE SAID IT
"ERA in this age of baseball is an old-school number. I look at WHIP. [Clayton] Kershaw, [Max] Scherzer, you look at them, the elite of the elite and what they do well, and their WHIP is low. You don't let people on, they don't score. " -- Buehler
Rich Hill opposes Clayton Richard and the Padres on Friday in a 7:10 p.m. PT series opener at Dodger Stadium. In Hill's last start, against the Mariners in Seattle, four of the first five batters he faced scored. The lefty was pretty good after that, allowing only one more hit as he finished six innings. The biggest concern was the five walks he allowed.